Cultivating A Curious Mindset

Lower school French class making maps of France for geography unitby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I recently came across an article shared by Entrepreneur magazine entitled, “The Most Important Skill at the Office Isn’t Being Taught in School.” It caught my attention. What is that important skill? The article argues it is curiosity. Curiosity is named by many behavioral scientists to be among the most valuable attributes in the workplace and yet it is not fostered in many schools. In fact, the way in which schools are structured discourages it. It makes sense because so many schools are driven by standardized testing and measure performance solely on test-based standards. Rest assured that is not the case at MPA, and in fact, is quite the opposite.

At MPA, curiosity is not just encouraged–it is expected. Furthermore, curiosity is valued as a mindset to be cultivated in its own right, not just for the workplace, but for lifelong fulfillment. According to best-selling author Todd Kashdan, “Curiosity—a state of active interest or genuinely wanting to know more about something—creates an openness to unfamiliar experiences, laying the groundwork for greater opportunities to experience discovery, joy, and delight.” Whether in the classroom, the workplace, or in life, curiosity is essential. Read More

Witness The Impact

by Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

If you have logged into Facebook or checked your email today, you are well aware that today is Give to the Max Day. Across the state of Minnesota, this day is a celebration of the power of philanthropy to change lives. For MPA, today marks a celebration of our generous donors who are so very dedicated to our students and who believe in making an impact on our school community.

The mission of Mounds Park Academy is vibrant and powerful, delivered by talented and caring teachers, and is having a tremendous impact on the lives of our students each day. Impact means to have a strong effect on someone or something. You share in that impact by the value you place on learning, the investment you are making in the education of your children, and your commitment and support of Mounds Park Academy. Read More

Your Gifts Make Athletics Possible

MPA girls soccer teamThis article is the fifth and final in a series called “The Fall Campaign Stories of Impact: Five Weeks, Five Stories, Five Reasons to Give.”

“Healthy mind, healthy body” is an ancient educational theme that celebrates the integration of academics and athletics. MPA has been at the forefront of cultivating student athletes, with an emphasis on achievement and leadership that extends from the classroom to the courts, fields, and stadiums where our Panthers compete.

“MPA’s no-cut philosophy means that we welcome all students and place them appropriately,” explains Dan Haase, MPA athletic director. “Every student who wants to participate is encouraged to take part and then matched to a team that reflects their current skill level. Unlike other schools, we don’t restrict the number of students who can join a team. For example, many schools might limit a basketball team to 12 players. If we have 16 students who want to play basketball, we include them all and work with them to progressively build their skills, whether they’re starting from a novice level or come in with an advanced level of performance.”

With competitive sports beginning in fifth grade at MPA, students have a long runway to grow as athletes. “We ensure that each level of play is developmentally appropriate, and that students are gaining the life skills that sports can uniquely provide,” says Haase. “We engage students early and provide flexibility so they can pursue multiple extracurricular activities. We want them to be well rounded, and to pursue the arts as well as athletics.”

That big picture approach to sports has cultivated high levels of participation and success. With more than 20 Upper School teams, 10 team state championships, and 20 individual state championships, our athletes transform their gifts and talents into everlasting accomplishments.

“Ultimately, our athletics program is student-centered,” says Haase. “We are continuously assessing the opportunities, gauging our students’ interests, and encouraging students to get involved and stay involved throughout their time at MPA.”

Because of philanthropy at MPA, our students develop physically, socially, and introspectively through athletics. Consider making a donation to the MPA Fund during the Fall Campaign by visiting or contacting Susan Robertson, Annual Giving & Alumni Relations Manager, at 651-748-5531. Together, we will raise $300,000 to bridge the gap between tuition and the total cost of educating a student at MPA.

We Dared To Dream

preK student in the makerspaceby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

The chair of our recent ISACS accreditation visiting team asked a founding faculty member a simple question: “Is the Mounds Park that exists today the school you envisioned all those years ago during its formation?”

“In many ways it is,” she answered, “But in many more ways, it exceeds what we dared to dream back then.” That single statement represents the hoped-for outcome of the last 18-month process and is at the heart of the report the visiting team wrote. As Head of School, and as a parent, I was overjoyed.

Mounds Park Academy is a proud member of the Independent Schools Association of Central States (ISACS). The purpose of ISACS is to promote the development of strong learning communities characterized by high achievements, social responsibility, and independence of governance, programs, and policies. This goal is achieved through a rigorous accreditation process, targeted professional development programs, and focused support services. In preparation for re-accreditation, we’ve spent the last 18 months reflecting on our mission and program and writing a very comprehensive, 147-page self-study report. Read More

Your Gifts Make College Counseling Possible

college decision day 2018This article is the fourth in a series called “The Fall Campaign Stories of Impact: Five Weeks, Five Stories, Five Reasons to Give.”

Think of a list of common fears, and a familiar few come to mind. Public speaking. Air travel. Spiders. And here in Minnesota, an early snow! Another typical source of anxiety is the college application process—a journey in U.S. culture that’s often driven by worries about attending the “best” school, instead of the right school.

Lisa Pederson, MPA’s director of College Counseling, addresses that sense of dread head-on, with compassion, expertise, and a proven program that empowers students to customize their college search based on their unique strengths, interests, and long-term goals. “The best fit for one is not the right fit for the next, even among high-achieving, academically strong, and otherwise talented students,” says Pederson. “Today’s college admissions professionals are looking for the authentic voice in their applicants, not a packaged one that checks every box.” Read More

Learning From Assessment

middle school group in classby Jenn Milam, Ph.D., Middle School Director

Editor’s Note: On the first Thursday of each month, you will find a guest blog post here from one of MPA’s division directors. We hope you will enjoy reading their thoughts and reflections about life at MPA.

As we approach the ACT Aspire testing in the Middle School, I am reminded that even just the word “assessment” or “test” can bring on feelings of stress, anxiety, or dread. And certainly, there are few conversations that garner more opinions or positions than that of assessment and testing in education. I wanted to take a moment to share with you what I hope is a more robust and thoughtful rendering of assessment and its implications for learning and teaching. More, I want to share with you, fellow parents, some thoughts on how you can be supportive of your students as they move through their educational journey with assessment. Read More

Why Does Participation Matter?

fourth graders give presentations to lower schoolHere at MPA, we’re so thankful for the commitment of our parents, grandparents, alumni, and community supporters. We’re also proud of the way our students grow during their time with us. We encourage students of all ages to participate in the things that matter most to them and to push themselves outside of their comfort zone to find out who they truly are through involvement in a wide range of opportunities.

Just like our students’ participation in their own learning and development, we challenge our supporters to participate through our Joyful Learning, Joyful Giving Fall Campaign. Every gift adds up to a big impact. Learn more about that impact on individual students and on big projects. Your gift ensures a top-notch education and joyful experience for every student here at MPA. Click here to make a gift! Read More

Your Gifts Make Foreign Language Instruction Possible

French III student reading to fourth grade French studentThis article is the third in a series called “The Fall Campaign Stories of Impact: Five Weeks, Five Stories, Five Reasons to Give.”

Bilingualism is one of the best things you can do for your brain. Research shows that young children who learn a second language have improved cognitive abilities, attention control, and problem solving skills. As they progress though school, continued language study correlates with academic achievement, higher ACT and SAT scores, and better performance at the college level. And as we age, fluency in more than one language has been connected to faster stroke recovery and delayed onset of dementia. Read More

Our MPA Moments

bill's lunch with seniors in the pcrby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Every fall, I invite seniors to have lunch with me in small groups of eight to 10. It is a fantastic time to check in with them about how their senior year is going, learn what their plans are for next year, solicit their feedback on my leadership, and thank them for serving as leaders and role models. I also ask them to share their “MPA moment”–the moment, memory, or experience that captures or illustrates the MPA mission to them. I enjoy hearing their stories and it only deepens my love and appreciation for this amazing community.

A common MPA moment I hear often has to do with their experience of a PreK-12 school under one roof. Seniors will talk about what it was like for them to have an Upper School buddy when they were in Lower School or how much they enjoy now the “pairing assemblies,” when as seniors, they are matched with younger students. Their eyes light up with joy as they share the special relationship they have developed.

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Your Gifts Make Elective Opportunities Possible

Upper School classThis article is the second in a series called “The Fall Campaign Stories of Impact: Five Weeks, Five Stories, Five Reasons to Give.”

MPA’s Upper School curriculum features a breadth and depth of challenging topics, from Modern United States History and Computer Science, to Literary Analysis and Advanced Argumentation. Can you find the electives in this list? It’s probably not obvious, and that’s by design. At MPA, all courses, both core and elective, are developed around specific academic requirements and developmental goals. Electives play a special role in the mix, reinforcing an interdisciplinary approach to learning that supports the whole student.

“Core and elective classes at MPA have distinct roles, and also have equal billing,” explains Mark Segal, Upper School director. “What’s learned in electives carries over to other courses. For example, the critical thinking and persuasion skills acquired through our elective course in debate translate into the public speaking component of our English courses, and the analytical approach needed in our science program.” Read More